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How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for a Lawyer
Attorney recommendations don't just benefit the lawyer for whom they are written. A legal letter of recommendation helps potential clients select competent legal counsel and be useful for law firms and other employers in choosing qualified candidates. Writing a letter to recommend a good lawyer can be challenging because you must present an objective perspective that's based on both your personal and professional assessment of the lawyer's character and competency.
Recommending a Good Lawyer
If you had legal representation that surpassed all your expectations, you may want to tell everyone you know. Instead of simply telling others, write a letter that explains why you have such confidence in your attorney. You might choose to send the letter to the law firm where your attorney works, or if you know someone who also is looking for legal representation, your letter might help someone else find a good lawyer.
Because this is a professional reference, it should be formatted like any other business correspondence. Ensure you have the correct name and spelling of the person you're writing about, and check to make sure you're sending the letter to the appropriate addressee. If you're posting a recommendation on a social media site to recommend the attorney for future business, include the lawyer's correct practice area or areas of expertise. For example, if you're writing about Susan Jones, who represents employers, double check her expertise. The letter should probably describe her as a "management-focused labor and employment attorney." If you're unsure, call her office and explain that you're writing a recommendation letter. The office will be happy to provide you with the correct language to use about her experience and credentials.
Content for an Attorney Recommendation Letter
Like other professions, a lawyer's successful representation also may depend on traits that have nothing to do with where she earned her law degree or how many court cases she has tried. Lawyers often work with people who need a problem solved, and the lawyer's personality, character and demeanor are factors that can enhance her effectiveness as legal counsel. When you write an attorney recommendation letter, however, focus on her legal experience and expertise and not so much her "chair-side manner," although that's an important factor for some people who are in the market for legal representation.
Susan Jones, an attorney with Jones & Jones, demonstrated the breadth of her legal expertise and knowledge when I hired her to represent me in a particularly complex liability case. She explained the legal process in a manner easily understood by a layperson, but she was not at all condescending. She adequately prepared me for my deposition to prevent me from becoming flustered in a setting where opposing counsel posed seemingly confrontational questions at a rapid-fire pace. Her credentials are impeccable. She graduated from Harvard Law School, and her legal training and expertise are evident in her interaction with other lawyers, paralegals, courthouse staff and clients. For potential clients seeking legal representation, I highly recommend Ms. Jones.
To avoid sharing anything that is attorney-client privileged, do not disclose specific personal information about you or your legal issue. If you were involved in a high-profile case, consider using a pseudonym to preserve your anonymity. Also, if you intend to post your recommendation letter, provide a draft to your attorney first. Tell her you want to recommend her services, but that you would appreciate her consent before you mail or publicly post the recommendation to ensure you're not crossing any lines pertaining to confidentiality.
Choosing a Good Lawyer
When you're looking for legal representation, you're obviously in a predicament where you need someone who has your best interests in mind – an experienced and savvy lawyer with a solid reputation for resolving legal matters to her clients' satisfaction. Whether you need an estate planning attorney or the best criminal defense attorney money can buy, attorney recommendation letters can be an excellent resource. Social media makes searching for good lawyers easy work. Sites like LinkedIn give colleagues an opportunity to post recommendations and endorsements for virtually every field, including law. These postings aren't formal attorney recommendation letters, but they often contain enough feedback about a lawyer for you to make an informed and wise choice.
In your search, look for recommendations and endorsements that address the lawyer's practice area competencies, character and performance. Posts that merely state, "John is a great guy and fun to work with," are useless, because they provide no information about John's legal skills and qualifications. Instead, look for recommendations and endorsements that speak to the lawyer's actual work.
John's 30 years of experience as intellectual property attorney, and his connections to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office were invaluable to my team of inventors who needed someone to provide expertise and guidance in areas where the administrative and legal issues were overwhelming."
- Invite the recipient of the letter to call you with any further questions.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she earned both the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), through the Society for Human Resource Management, and certification as a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) through the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ruth also is certified as a facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer. Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
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